If you’ve walked down Church Street this year and your eyes have been drawn to one of the brightly coloured Raise Durham posters then you aren’t alone. The colours certainly attract the eye, as does the demanding ‘Raise’ in huge font. But their marketing strategies seem to have worked. Last year, a total of 122 students raised over £30,000 which went towards helping a whopping 37,877 people.
Now their donations are open for this year and students are already flocking to the site. During their launch event, I personally watched as the donations went up on the live screen, reaching £2000 before the end of the evening.
This week I sat down with Thomas Cohen, the founder and current leader of Raise Durham, to discuss the group’s fundraising efforts ahead of the end of the donation period this Sunday.
1) Why did you get involved in the group?
“I was introduced to Raise 2 years ago by a friend in Cambridge. It took me a while to fully get to grips with it, but I was taken aback that a simple philosophy of encouraging positive and deliberate giving could inspire so many people to give so much to charity. It transformed the way I thought about giving, and I was so excited when I had the opportunity to get involved here in Durham. I donated for the first time to the Cambridge chapter in 2020, and then decided to try to set it up here in Durham last year.”
2) Where does the money donated to Raise go?
“The money goes to the Against Malaria Foundation, which is one of the most effective charities in the world. AMF produce and distribute long-lasting insecticidal nets to protect against malaria. It costs just $2 to buy a malaria net, which can help protect an average of almost 2 people for around 3 years. Malaria is such a preventable disease, and every donation really can make a massive difference Our main aim, however, is to encourage a positive and celebratory approach to charity, so we are more than happy if people want to donate to other charities!”
3) What makes Raise different from other charity groups?
“Student fundraisers tend to operate in one of three ways. Many are transactional, where you buy a ticket to a charity event or buy something from a bake sale. Others are imperceptible, where you donate a small amount or round up a purchase. Alternatively, you might sponsor a friend doing some challenges, such as a marathon. Although these are all brilliant ways to fundraise and make a massive impact, we think that when people engage with charity in these ways, they don’t focus on the actual impact they are having. Raise puts charity and impact right at the heart of everything we do. We want people to join because of the amazing impact they can have, and not because they get something tangible in return or feel obliged to.”
4) How can people get involved in the group?
“The best way to get involved now is to donate! You can at joinraise.org/durham. By donating, you become part of our community and are invited to our summer party in the post-exam period – a time for everyone who joined to come together and celebrate our collective impact. You can also become a rep or join our committee next year – all those details will be out later this term! If you want to get more involved now drop us a message and we’d love to have a chat about it!”
5) Why does Raise suggest a donation of £100 / How much does Raise suggest people donate?
“We suggest that you donate something personally significant to you – an amount that really makes you stop and think about your donation. We hope that this will make you really reflect on the impact of your donation and that this approach makes giving more meaningful and ultimately more impactful. The amount required for this is, naturally, different for everyone, but we have a suggested donation of £100 to start that thought process.”
6) What percentage of donations actually go towards the charity?
“100%! It’s one of the things I’m most proud of about Raise – every penny of your donation will go to AMF. And, AMF is so amazing that 100% of donations go directly to buying malaria nets! We also have matched funding, so it’s actually 200%!”
7) What is ‘matched funding’ and how does it work?
“We have a few donors who have agreed to match all our donations, so if you donate £100, £200 will go to AMF!”
8) How can people donate?
“You can donate at joinraise.org/durham. You can choose to donate weekly or with a one-off donation.”
At the time of the interview, the group had raised £9425 including matched funding, which would help protect 11,451 people from malaria. They have high hopes to surpass the £10,000 mark by the end of the donations period. Taken with last year’s total of £30,714, that is already 49,328 people that the group have helped in its two-year history